Friday, Sept. 22
Ferry to Matsuyama

  The 11 kilometers on busy Route 10 from Beppu to Oita had some nasty stretches where the sidewalk/bikeway was barely wide enough for our bikes and had some dangerous metal grates. We were right up against a sea wall, and although the sidewalk was about 18 inches higher than the road, fast-moving trucks were too close for comfort. We actually got off our bikes and walked in a couple of places.

  We got to Oita in plenty of time for the 4:10 p.m. boat to Matsuyama. We had lunch in the restaurant in the ferry terminal. The ferry cost about $27 per person, with bike, and it was about a three-hour ride.
  We changed into street clothes on the ferry. Kazuko met us at the dock in Matsuyama and drove us straight to her favorite onsen, Himehiko. Built in 1997, this is a large, modern, sparkling clean public bath with several indoor and outdoor pools, including one with bubble jets, a couple with falling streams of water, a chest-deep "track" pool where you walk laps to burn calories, a steam room, a sauna with a TV, a cold pool, and more. After our bath, Kazuko and I found Rick in the lobby puzzling over the remote control for a massage chair -- a recliner that moves every which way.
  We drove downtown to meet Neal and ate dinner at Kaminari (Thunder), a fabulous okonomi-yaki restaurant. The L-shaped bar was the grill, and as our pancakes cooked in front of us, the cook emerged from the kitchen with jumbo shrimp flaming in a frying pan. He deposited two shrimp in each pancake -- oishi (delicious).